Revisiting Lettie Gardiner’s work in diverse art sale

Gardiner’s paintings reflect the inspiration she draws from frequent travelling throughout the country and abroad, especially to the Netherlands.

An impressive cross-section of South African art across a variety of mediums, periods and themes makes Strauss & Co’s June ART Online Sale a great opportunity for new and seasoned collectors to diversify their collections.

Closing on Monday 10 June, the sale features three sessions – namely Art Club, Impression/Expression, and RE/VIEW – and  includes a focus on the South African painter Lettie Gardiner.

Born in Heilbron, Free State in 1937, Gardiner studied Fine Art at the University of Natal before moving to Johannesburg where she has continued to work. Gardiner is closely associated with the Johannesburg Art Foundation through Bill Ainslie who regularly invited her to exhibit there. “Her paintings are in prominent South African collections, including the Rand Merchant Bank, the South African Broadcasting Corporation, and the Mobil Collection, as well as in many private collections.”

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Says Strauss & Co art researcher and cataloguer Georgina Glass, “ We are excited to present this focus on Lettie Gardiner as part of the June ART Online Sale. These are beautiful works by an artist who has been largely underappreciated in South Africa.”

Three dynamic examples of Gardiner’s abstract landscapes are on the sale, with attractive estimates.  Abstract Bare Landscape (estimate R 6000 – 8000) is an understated, but striking work, while Landscape in Blue (estimate R 12 000 – 16 000) showcases her spirited mark-making. Untitled (estimated R 30 000 – 40 000) is an exercise in both colour and form, demonstrating Gardiner’s unique painterly gestures.

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Other notable landscapes included in the sale are by Zakkie Eloff, whose sweeping ‘Etosha Landscape sold for a record price of R 257 950 in Strauss & Co’s May Live auction. Eloff’s vivid Buffalo in the Grasslands (estimate R 15 000 – 20 000) and Wildebees Running in a Grassy Landscape (estimate R 15 000 – 20 000) will attract competitive bidding.

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Abstract works by South African modernists Bill Ainslie and Durant Sihlali are also up for auction. Ainslie’s Untitled (Abstract in Blue and Red) (estimate R 10 000 – 15 000) is a symphony of colour and gesture, while Sihlali’s Untitled Abstract (estimate R 12 000 – 16 000) demonstrates the artist’s experiments with mixed media on handmade paper.

For those looking to add sculpture to their collections, Frank van Reenen’s Playful Shy Girl Rain Taster and Pet Shop Girl sculptures are all estimated at an accessible R 5000 – 7000.

A standout lot is Jake Aikman’s Here and Now/Janus Atlantic (estimate R 18 000 – 24 000). The work is comprised of two woodblock prints from distinct carvings, each mirrored and precisely aligned, with a slender gap maintained between them. “This gap symbolises the juncture between the past and the future, aiming to draw the observer’s attention to the immediate moment,” explains Aikman.

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Another highlight on the sale is by globally renowned artist Nelson Makamo, who recently hosted a successful solo booth at the 2024 RMB Latitudes Art Fair in May. Makamo is represented in the sale through several small works on paper.

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“We also have some real gems from important Contemporary artists including Lisa Brice, Berni Searle, Frances Goodman and Penny Siopis, so it’s a sale that really has something for everyone,” says Glass.

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The June ART sale is open until Monday 10 June. Lots close consecutively at 1-minute intervals, from 2pm. Each lot is open for bidding until its specified closing time. To register, browse, bid or buy please visit Strauss and Co

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